Being surrounded by confident, somewhat successful, talented males is hard when you’re a relatively nervous, insecure young woman. The pressure that is put on you to reach their expectations, but not overreach, to be what they want, but also be yourself and to be good at it, but not too good is overwhelming and unsatisfying. We are raised, despite all (apparent) efforts, to be cheerful, smiling, unchallenging and passive. We should not question authority or be too bold with our ideas. We should constantly question whether we are good enough and not ever try to put anything forward if we don’t think it is.
The differences between the way females and males are raised go way beyond wearing pink and blue. Boys are encouraged to be confident with their ideas, to challenge injustices and try to be noticed. Girls are encouraged to be the opposite. To continuously question if we are good enough, to be sure we are questioning something worth questioning if we dare and to never rock the boat or cause too much drama, as it may risk us being titled ‘drama queen’.
The things boys are praised for are the things we are not. And this is what has meant that I, a perfectly capable 22 year old female am still nervous about what my friends with penises think about me and my work. Namely my creative output. I am surrounded by musicians, artists and young ‘entrepreneurs’. Males who decided that they knew what they were good at and took a leap to get better and become known for that. They were confident with their ideas, thoughts and creativity. And amongst them all becoming more and more comfortable with these talents, I sunk into the background in fear of sticking out too much. Afraid of rocking the boat and risking their opinions of me. To the point where now at 22 I hide sketch books, pieces of writing, even sewing until I feel like I am confident enough with that skill for someone else to see it.
My slow deterioration into a shell of myself is easy to see if you look back on what I used to be. A young confident girl who dressed how she wanted, created what she wanted and listened to what she wanted slowly and surely became a young woman who dressed how the males around her thought she should, was afraid to show even her closest friends her creative output and no longer had a single opinion on any music. I felt like my opinion didn’t matter. I was inferior. I still feel like this to some degree.
I’m sick of this. I’m also sick of the group mentality males get where they decide that because they’re together they can openly judge and make fun of a female for trying to do anything that they deem out of the ordinary. I’m sick of boys deciding my opinion on art or music must only exist because another male in my life told me to think that way. And I’m sick of dressing or looking how I think they want me to. They don’t realise how much it affects a person, feeling that they are simply not good enough. It makes you wonder why they keep you around. It makes you wonder what you’re even worth to them.
I know that this is not all men. And I know that the individuals who act this way probably don’t realise that this is what it feels like. But it is hard and it is important to raise awareness of this, to address the issue and make women feel safer in the environments they share with males.
I’ve decided that I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I’m not going to let myself feel this way anymore. I am no longer letting this be a continuous theme in my life. I am starting to call males out on these opinions and let myself be noticed for things I wouldn’t have previously. And I encourage other women to do the same. This silent, almost subconscious sexism that exists, perpetuates the ideas that women’s opinions, thoughts and creations are not as important as that of a males and is slowly destroying females and will negatively affect us well into the future.
These are just my thoughts and opinions based on what I’ve experienced being a young woman part of a scene and friendship group dominated by males. I have been quiet about it for a long time and felt the need to express how I feel and the impact this is having on me.
lots of love,
the title and image for this post come from an etsy shop called knittopurltoo, run by kathleen parvin. the link to the shop and this amazing tote bag is below: